2018 year Reviews

The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards and Postmarks

Umberto Cavallaro

Springer-Praxis, 2018, 338pp, softback


ISBN 978-3-319-92152-5

The famous story of the political race to ‘conquer the Moon’ and the development of the technology that made it possible has been told many times; but while cultural elements of the Moon race are often acknowledged, books are rarely dedicated to them. This book is an exception in that it covers a thriving field of space memorabilia collection derived from a practical commercial application, i.e. sending letters.

Philatelists will not be surprised to find that a 300-page book can be filled with information and photographs of space stamps and related materials, and they will love this book. Even space aficionados otherwise immune to the joys of philately will be fascinated to find that their favourite history can be traced from Sputnik to Apollo by way of stamps: its seven chapters cover the early Space Age; man in space; the beginnings of the Moon race; the Gemini programme; space tragedies; “the final leap” to the Moon; and “the philatelic side of Apollo 11”. It’s a story of propaganda, creativity and design - as well as technology and achievement in exploration - and is well worth viewing from the perspective of the stamp collector.

The book concludes with appendices, a bibliography and an all-important index. Each chapter has a reference list and the volume is illustrated in colour throughout. If there is one minor criticism in this regard, it is that the quality of paper and printing does not do justice to the vibrancy of the stamps and first-day covers themselves. As a recovering space stamp collector myself, I admit that one of the attractions of the hobby is what photographers call colour saturation. There is no room for subtlety in space stamps! Nevertheless, a great story well illustrated.

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